The first step is to ensure your spouse knows about your divorce complaint
When divorce notice (divorce complaint) is submitted to the court, the sheriff or a private process server will attempt to deliver the papers in person to your spouse’s last known home address or work location. The court may also allow you to try alternative methods to deliver the divorce notice by email, by publishing a notice in a newspaper, or even via social media and/or a text message.
Usually, your spouse would file an answer to your divorce complaint. But, if there is no response from your spouse, you may be awarded a default divorce.
You can get a default divorce if your spouse doesn’t respond to a divorce notice
If you properly served your spouse with notice of a divorce complaint and your spouse does not respond, then the court may award you a default divorce. There are two sets of circumstances in which you may want to file for a default divorce judgement:
- If your spouse has been served and agrees to the terms stated in the divorce notice, then there is no need for your spouse to respond and you can file for a default divorce with 60 days after service.
- If your spouse has been served and does not respond to and/or file an action in response to the notice within 35 days, then you can ask for a default divorce within 60 days.
Essentially, a default divorce is an uncontested divorce action.
Steps for requesting a default divorce judgement in NJ
After the 35 days have passed, you should call the court clerk in the county where you filed the divorce complaint. Check with the clerk to ensure that no answer has been filed in your divorce action. You will need to fill out and mail an original and one copy of the following to the court:
- Request to Enter Default Judgement and Supporting Certification (Form 17). In response to this request, you may get a date for a hearing. Some NJ counties do not require you to attend the hearing.
- Certification of Non-Military Service (Form 18). If your spouse is in the military, you cannot get a default judgement. This form serves as a sworn statement that your spouse is not in the military.
You should also send a copy of your Request to Enter Default Judgement and Supporting Certification to your spouse by both regular and certified mail with a return receipt. You will need the receipt for your default hearing.
The court will contact you within two weeks with a hearing date. When you get your date, you can fill out the Default Divorce Hearing (Forms 19 and 19A) and mail it to your spouse as you did with the previous forms. If you are seeking more than just a divorce (custody, child support, etc.…), there may be additional forms to fill out and file. You can find these forms and information about how to fill out these forms and contact the court here. You should have a New Jersey divorce attorney review these documents to ensure that you have filled them out and submitted them properly. This can save you time and stress and ensure you are prepared for you default divorce hearing.
At the default divorce hearing, the court will review all the documents you submitted, your tax returns and other financial statements. At the end of the hearing, the judge will sign the proposed judgement you brought to the hearing or make modifications to it, if needed.
New Brunswick, NJ lawyer can help you file for a default divorce
Attorney Steven Cytryn has the experience you need to help you file or respond to a divorce complaint. He can also help you file for a default divorce in the correct time frame. He provides compassionate and aggressive advocacy for you in divorce proceedings. If you are contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Steven M. Cytryn online or at (732) 214-1103.